Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Compare and Contrast

As the Allocation and Expression of Interest letters continue falling on doormats along with the Christmas cards, lets just take a moment to reflect on some of the bollocks being talked in certain quarters, and compare it with the reality of how TR is affecting peoples lives.

First up, lets remind ourselves what the Secretary of State Chris Grayling said to all staff in that letter of his last week:-

I understand that some of you will be worried about the impact the implementation process will potentially have on your day job. I would like to assure you that public safety remains our top priority and the Transforming Rehabilitation Programme, working with colleagues in NOMS, will support Trusts with the transition process to minimise the impact on operational delivery.

What the hell does that reference to a 'day job' mean FFS?! 

No hint from the new bosses of NPS and CRC in London that staff just might be a bit concerned or distressed about what's happening, just platitudinous crap:-  

We are committed to working together to ensure that the transition to the National Probation Service and the London Community Rehabilitation Company is as smooth and safe as possible and we will be relying on your insight and knowledge to help achieve this. Achieving this transition safely in London is a major challenge which has significance for Probation as a whole and it will be vital that we set up clear arrangements for how the two organisations will interact. 

Like you, we are concerned to make sure that we continue to provide excellent services to victims, courts and service users and that we maintain and develop partnerships with other agencies.  You are the experts on what you will need in order to carry out your jobs effectively in the new structures and we are keen to listen to your questions and suggestions. 

Some Trust bosses are so out of touch with reality they think a 'twitterthon' might be just what's needed to take peoples mind off things:-

TRAFFORD Probation Service is taking part in a 24-hour Twitterthon, in which staff will constantly update followers about its role.

Staff at the probation office, on Newton Street, Old Trafford, supervise offenders on community sentences as well as prisoners on licence from prison.

The trust aims to increase public safety by holding offenders to account for their actions, while also supporting their rehabilitation.

Tim Kyle, assistant chief executive, said: “It is easy to overlook the work of probation because the service only really grabs media headlines when things go wrong.

“That is why I am delighted that staff from across the trust is participating in a Twitterthon that is aimed at raising awareness about our work."

I think this piece from Mark Darby, inventor of Pam, takes the biscuit for sheer bollocks though:- 

"This week I’m doing some work on the CRC start up and in particular planning the merger work for those Trusts who want to use pam to help them merge and change successfully.  Its an exciting time with most of the new chiefs now appointed and starting to look ahead to the next phase in the life of probation services.  
For those not familiar, 21 CRCs (Community Rehabilitation Companies) will emerge in April from 35 existing probation trusts, as part of the Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) programme.  pam was also used to help some of the original 42 probation boards merge and transform into 35 probation trusts so we have good experience here.  It is currently used to help numerous trusts with their exit plans and key milestone management in addition to being used for much of the day job beyond change management itself.
In thinking about how to structure the merger environment, I typically put myself in the shoes of the leaders our pam service will be supporting as they physically go through the merge and transition. A key issue for me (and therefore them) to meet the goals is going to be winning back the hearts and minds of a probation workforce that has been poorly treated in the change to date.
It’s fair to say that NOMS and MoJ has not had the most successful of communications campaigns around TR to date and it is going to be top of my mind to change that.  So how do I merge 2 or 3 probation trusts successfully, get it ready for sale 6-8 months later to maximise taxpayers RoI (better than the post office sell-off), and still deliver a great service on the way for a greater number of users? In addition I’ve got other local stakeholders like partners and the Police & Crime Commissioner to consider.  It’s one thing having letters delayed by unhappy posties but clearly public protection of offenders and support for victims cannot be put at risk!  It is a tall order but doable if we plan well and get things right quickly in delivery.
CRC’s only have a short life before they get sold.  I as a chief will therefore  have limited opportunity to make change beyond NOMS and MoJ constraints as it will affect the sale specification.  But I will clearly seek some freedom in doing things my way too as that is what leaders do.   I and my employees within the CRC also still have responsibilities, ambitions and values to consider too, as do our partners.  Most of the team are probation professionals who have no desire to change careers either. So it set me thinking………"

In order to help your thinking Mark, here's some recent contributions from readers for you to mull over:-

I don`t want any part of this new arrangement, whether NPS or CRC. I`ve simply had enough and want/need out. I know of a number of colleagues saying the same thing. I don`t need an enhanced package, just enough to get by on. But I have younger (and probably more able and useful) colleagues who are blown to bits by the uncertainty and some have eloquently stated that here.

They`re going make swathes of staff redundant before long, probably in both bits. Why not just see who wants out on standard terms now and give more of those with mouths to feed and futures to live a better chance of at least having a job.

Today a really hard working colleague collapsed at work in considerable distress about his /her circumstances (sorry but I don't want to identify their gender) and I fear will not be at work for some time. As a sole parent with children to support, the fear and anxiety created by Grayling's dreadful mess has simply become too much to bear.This person has an excellent sickness record but sees their future having been removed and can no longer cope with what we all know is a demanding job. Shame on this government, collectively and wholly.

This is so sad but I fear will be all too common. I do hope your colleague has a good support network to help them through. This is criminal. One of my colleagues aged 48 has had a heart attack. I'm starting to wonder if Grayling is just trying to kill us all off.

Here we go again, the last 3 sleepless hours before another week of joy thanks to noms, moj and grayling.

If I am Palestinian I may not be able to work for G4S because of their involvement with the detention of political prisoners in the Middle East.
If I am African I may not be able to work for either Serco or G4S because of my belief that they are involved in human rights abuses in South Africa.
The same if I'm Austrailian.
If I champion Animal Welfare I cannot work for a company that is responsible for clinical trials on animals.
If I champion environmental causes then I couldn't work for a company involved in destroying our rain forests.
If I am anti-war I cannot work for a company involved in the supply of arms.
These are diverse issues and as such raise issues of diversity. I have a right to hold ethics, and the freedom to stand proud against whatever wrong I believe exists in the world. 
I am state employed not state owned and as such retain the right to make free choices.
To be asked to accept employment from an unknown employer takes my choices away, refuses to acknowledge issues of my diversity, and leaves me concerned about political, religious, moral and ethical abuses I may be faced with when I meet my new employer.

My EOI letter I sent back and noted on it my situation and confusion. I note that the last sentence (right before my signature) said that I am not guaranteed a job in either NPS or CRC. So I have a 6 month baby boy to care for, it's Christmas, and I have no notion of whether I will have an income post April 2014. I was going to post this anonymously but, that just makes me a wispy figure that government can tell itself may not really exist. Well I do exist, my concerns are genuine. My baby son is real and I am really frightened about the future. I feel drained by this. This has been an appalling way to treat loyal and hard working staff in my opinion. My motivation to rejoin probation is rock bottom currently. This is the real human cost of TR.


  1. CRCs only have a short life before they get sold? Maybe all those busy setting them up whilst their colleagues carry their workloads should consider that. Only a short life before they get sold. Really what those champions of TR are doing is just carrying their own cruisifix. But as CRCs only have a short life before they are sold you may not have to carry it for long.

  2. Mark Darby's own biography on his website suggests he has NO experience of frontline criminal justice work -

    I am glad he will not get the chance to lead me - especially as he seems to think this terminology makes sense "It’s one thing having letters delayed by unhappy posties but clearly public protection of offenders and support for victims cannot be put at risk! "

    It seems to me that public protection from former offenders is actively being put at risk by Probation Managers, and Trust Board Members who are doing the bidding of the Ministry of Justice, as we are reading of an apparent increase in resignations, which is putting extra demands on remaining managers and staff. Were I still employed as a probation officer, I am almost certain that by know I would have sought alternative employment, and rather than risk a suitable vacancy being filled after the TR reassignments - would take it now, after all my first reason for working is to gain a secure income. I would remain, if I was offered reasonable security of employment, until my existing retirement date - otherwise, I would out of a sense of duty to my family, seek a job change sooner rather than later.

    Andrew Hatton

    1. Dyslexia strikes again - 'by *know I would have sought' was meant to have been written - 'by *now I would have sought'!

      Andrew Hatton

    2. Annon @ 14:50

      Having worked within the work programme your comments ring very true indeed.
      With the outsourcing of the welfare state many state employed staff were recruited by private organisations, given fantastic titles, a name plate on their desk in a nice large office, and salaries (personal experience) anywhere from 28k a year to 65k a year. They had the skills, knowledge and contacts that the private sector required.
      But once you've set the structure up you're an overpaid surplus to requirement.
      I saw many ways that this surplus was weeded out, and none very nice. I even say one person arrive at work to find their personal belongings in a carrier bag at reception and their office being used to store files.
      I saw paperwork being changed so as to make compliant files impossible to complete and the person who's responsible sacked for failing in their duty.
      I saw many legal challanges being brought for unfair dismissal, abuse of process, and all pointed to the contract they had signed promising them gold and status.
      But the private sectors pursuit of profit is tireless, unethical and ruthless. So by the time the legal challanges were brought the companies were restructured, amalagamated, sold, swallowed up and lost within bigger companies. Many won their legal challanges, and many won compansation. But none got their jobs back, and very few saw much of the compansation they were awarded. Many in hindsight may wish they had stayed in the public sector. But when your promised status, autonomy and riches and the full support and protection of those who are going to help you achieve that what do you do?
      I think all those jumping into the life boats of the sinking good ship probation, would do well to remember just how big the ocean really is, just how many sharks live in it, and if you're lucky enough to be washed up on a beautiful desert island remember that theres still canibals about.
      But we all have to live with the choices we make.

  3. Most most prophetic and insightful comment I have seen in a long time. I would like to add a bit of ozymandias comments myself. Look around your office now Those amongst us on disiplinary,grievance,sick,suspension or competence are some of the most influential collegues you have. Minion managers have done Chris Graylings bidding by selecting these hard working moral individuals for special attention in order to rid the private sector companies of their most"troublesome" prospective "whistleblowers"

  4. PAM......ha,ha,ha Don,t make me laugh. PAM is only marginally more user friendly than NDelius in my view. I suppose the only advantage is that it can be accessed from anywhere, as it 'lives' on the internet and not the intranet. So staff will have no excuse keeping it all up to date as they can do it in their (unpaid) time at home.
    And as for all the shiny rhetoric from the newly appointed CRC chiefs, it strikes me as brittle, delusional and borderline pathological. Nothing human there. Very scary.


    1. That Independent piece with link given above: -

      "MPs call for inquiry into 'systemic failings' in the Civil Service
      A series of failures in recent years have wasted hundreds of millions of pounds

      Oliver Wright - Wednesday 11 December 2013

      - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

      A group of the most powerful MPs in Parliament will demand a root and branch review into “systemic failings” in the Civil Service that have led to a string of debacles.

      In a highly unusual intervention, the chairs of every Commons select committee have endorsed a report calling for ministers to establish a parliamentary commission into the Civil Service.

      They said that they were “unconvinced” the Government’s current reform plan was based any “strategic consideration” of the future of the Civil Service and criticised David Cameron for not having “a coherent analysis of why things go wrong”.

      They recommended that the inquiry – which would take evidence from ministers, officials and outside experts – should run along similar lines to the Banking Commission. They added it should make recommendations for reform in time for the next election.

      The report by the Liaison Committee, which is made up of all the select committee chairs, cites a series of Civil Service failures in recent years that have wasted hundreds of millions of pounds. These include the collapse of the West Coast main line franchising, a failure to roll out universal credit on time and on budget, overcharging by private sector companies such as G4S and Serco and systemic problems at the former Borders Agency.

      The report claims the Civil Service has a bias to inertia, does not learn from failure and has a deficit of commercial and contracting skills.

      The Government is currently implementing its own Civil Service reform plan which would place permanent secretaries on fixed-term contracts, beef up ministerial private offices and ensure officials stayed in key roles for longer.

      But Bernard Jenkin, chair of the Public Administration Select Committee which first called for the commission, said he feared that these plans would come to nothing.

      “The problem is that the senior Civil Service intends to outlast this reform plan,” he said. “A parliamentary commission would have cross-party support and provide a mandate for reform that could not be ignored.”

      A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “Many of the concerns raised here are addressed in our Civil Service reform plan.” "

      Andrew Hatton

  6. Am I alone in wondering why Grayling seems to be keeping quiet recently?
    Law reform, TR, EU, immigration, police, prisons, Richard 3rd, and everything else, he's normally got something to say. But he appears to be keeping a very low profile of late. Can't help but wonder why? Calm before the storm?

  7. an interesting experience today - perhaps a window into the future? En route home after a day out of office a comfort break at a motorway services. When I got back to my vehicle a large 'executive' estate full of men in suits and aftershave had just parked alongside making it impossible for me to open the driver's door. He had reversed in, so the driver was next to me. I made a shrugging type of gesture, he wound down his window.

    "what do you expect me to do?" he asked.

    "pull forward maybe?" I suggested.


    "so I can get in my car if that's not too much trouble."

    He looked very unhappy. After his three passengers had alighted and donned their jackets he pulled forward. I got into my car and he parked straight back where he was before, at wing mirror-kissing distance. He then tried to open his door, hitting it against my car, and shrugged with a stupid grin.

    I opened my window, to hear him calling me a "prick" and his passengers laughing.

    The car was liveried with G4S logos. Presumably the cream of the crop en route to or from clinching some deal?

  8. still stressing out over deciding CRC or NPS got to be done very soon. Also try to keep up with a rapidly increasing case load with staff leaving. its terrible.

  9. We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

  10. I am unable to sleep worrying about the future but am expected to perform in my job ( Court PO). I am assigned to NPS but increasingly feeling resentment from colleagues who see this as the preferred option, what most colleagues say they want. I am not so sure. We hear daily stories of unrest in teams as people go through this process - how can the employer expect us to remain sharing offices after the split. It is simply inhuman. Can you imagine the tensions as terms and conditions change between the two new organisations and we are all still in the same offices? I repeat, it is inhuman or, put into Grayling speak, will surely affect performance......

    1. What's happening to this country? How can so many in influential positions turn a blind eye to this downward slide into god knows what? This bullying is turning into oppression. Who knows what G & co are really thinking? Historians will describe this phase as the time when 'good men' did nothing to support the powerless against this oncoming tyranny. TR will fail. But lies will prevail and no one will be held to account. The concept of SFO will be dropped. Data will be corrupted to show successful Outcomes and that's All that will matter. Never mind lions led by donkeys - the donkeys will be criminal thugs in suits as per above post supported by corrupt politicians. Sickening.

  11. The resentment will really come to the fore from 1st April 2014 onwards. You will get some colleagues who are in the new NPS (note I have said some, not all) who will look down on those who are in CRC. You will also get some CRC staff who will feel resentment at having to still do the tasks of those that have been assigned to NPS for the interim period. Another person in my office has gone off on stress leave. In my opinion whilst the vast majority of staff in trusts are in the same boat, more formal support should be made available during this stressful time.